Mira and Paul Sorvino Fight His Diabetes Together

Imagine Mira’s shock when Paul almost lost consciousness at a family dinner because his blood sugar skyrocketed--the Oscar winner had no idea her father had type 2 diabetes. In this candid interview with MORE, the father-and-daughter Hollywood duo say they are now armed, informed and fighting this condition together. An edited version of the interview follows.

by Ilyssa Panitz • More.com Celebrity Reporter
paul and mira sorvino picture
Paul and Mira Sorvino
Photograph: Steve Depino

More: Paul, when did you find out you had diabetes?
Paul Sorvino: I found out by going to the doctor for an eye procedure that required an operation. After the doctor examined me, he said, “We can’t operate, because your blood sugar is 420 and you have diabetes.” I was stunned.

More: Were you experiencing any symptoms?
PS: I was feeling ill for about a year. I was constantly thirsty and constantly tired.

More: When did you receive your diagnosis?
PS: Five years ago. I was 67 years old.

More: How did you take the news?
PS: I wasn’t in denial. Rather, I was in sloth because I did not want to feel that I had to deal with all of this—it was annoying. I never asked myself, "Why is this happening to me?" because I never wanted to talk about it, even with myself.

More: Does diabetes run in your family?
PS: Yes. My brother had it and my aunt had it.

More: Mira, are you scared of getting it or frightened your children could get it?
Mira Sorvino: Everyone is susceptible to getting it. Not only is it genetic, but your lifestyle can have an impact, too. Sure, I have an increased risk because it is prevalent in my family, but because I have learned so much about diabetes, I am trying to do what I can to keep my family healthy.

More: How did your dad tell you he had this condition?
MS: Dad lived with it for a few years and kept it from us. He was dealing with it alone. Although there were a few little episodes here and there. It was when I eyewitnessed a big episode that I not only got scared but quickly realized I had to get informed so I could help him.

More: What was the episode?
MS: Dad had just eaten a huge plate of delicious pasta when all of a sudden his head dropped forward and his face turned an ashen purple color. Dad somehow got up from the table and said he needed to lie down. When I went to check on him, Dad said he had just taken some medication because he thought it was the diabetes.
More: Paul, if your family is so close, why did you hide this secret from them?
PS: I don’t know. I did not want to let down the people who love me, and I didn’t want to burden them. I am from the John Wayne generation. Now I see this as a minor nuisance I need to deal with and take care of.

More: Mira, since you are so close to your dad, were you hurt that he kept this from you?
MS: No, I didn’t take it that way.

More: Paul, does having diabetes scare you?
PS: No, but I hope by taking care of it, I will not experience any of the terrible things that could happen if you don’t take care of it.

More: Mira, do you ever worry about your dad now that you know he has diabetes?
MS: Well, sure. Obviously anyone you love, you worry about. Certainly seeing that extreme episode where he had high blood sugar before he received medication was really scary.

More: Paul, have you changed your diet?
PS: I now eat low-carbohydrate pasta. Because I can still have pasta, I can be creative in how I prepare meals.
MS: But you are also eating more vegetables and salads, more so than before.
PS: That’s because she makes me eat salads the size of ice rinks [laughs].

More: How do you encourage exercise?
MS: We as a family take ballroom dancing. It is so much fun.

First Published June 10, 2011

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